The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement: The Battle for Control of the Law (Princeton Studies in American Politics: Historical, International, and Comparative Perspectives)

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9780691122083: The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement: The Battle for Control of the Law (Princeton Studies in American Politics: Historical, International, and Comparative Perspectives)
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Starting in the 1970s, conservatives learned that electoral victory did not easily convert into a reversal of important liberal accomplishments, especially in the law. As a result, conservatives' mobilizing efforts increasingly turned to law schools, professional networks, public interest groups, and the judiciary--areas traditionally controlled by liberals. Drawing from internal documents, as well as interviews with key conservative figures, The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement examines this sometimes fitful, and still only partially successful, conservative challenge to liberal domination of the law and American legal institutions.


Unlike accounts that depict the conservatives as fiendishly skilled, The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement reveals the formidable challenges that conservatives faced in competing with legal liberalism. Steven Teles explores how conservative mobilization was shaped by the legal profession, the legacy of the liberal movement, and the difficulties in matching strategic opportunities with effective organizational responses. He explains how foundations and groups promoting conservative ideas built a network designed to dislodge legal liberalism from American elite institutions. And he portrays the reality, not of a grand strategy masterfully pursued, but of individuals and political entrepreneurs learning from trial and error.


Using previously unavailable materials from the Olin Foundation, Federalist Society, Center for Individual Rights, Institute for Justice, and Law and Economics Center, The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement provides an unprecedented look at the inner life of the conservative movement. Lawyers, historians, sociologists, political scientists, and activists seeking to learn from the conservative experience in the law will find it compelling reading.

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"The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement provides an essential road map to the organizational mobilization of conservatives over the past quarter century."--Al Gore, corecipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize


"Steven Teles's deep, meticulous study of the successes and failures of the conservative legal reform movement illuminates the politics of law like nothing else in the literature. Combining original reporting, political theory, and institutional analysis in just the right proportions, his bold and deliberate investigation leads to a bracing conclusion: idealism, risk taking, patience, and devotion to the intrinsic merits of ideas are not secondary, but essential to the discovery of successful political strategies."--Christopher DeMuth, president of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research


"In this deeply informative and engagingly written book, Teles credits, as many academics refuse to do, the possibility that the success of the conservative legal movement is to be explained in part by the intellectual force of conservative arguments. His fair-mindedness is praiseworthy not only for its own sake, but also for enabling him to produce a more accurate and refined account of the remarkable phenomenon he seeks to understand."--Robert P. George, Princeton University


"A timely and important book. Drawing on inside accounts from key players, Teles tells the remarkable story of how conservatives overthrew liberal legal assumptions; more importantly, he shows how successful ideas depend on building organizations, institutions, and networks to propagate and defend them."--Jack M. Balkin, Yale Law School


"The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement is a terrific, pathbreaking book, and Teles tells the story with verve, clarity, and elegance. Through the quality of its argument and evidence, this book will become the standard authority on the conservative movement in law."--Charles Epp, author of The Rights Revolution: Lawyers, Activists, and Supreme Courts in Comparative Perspective


"The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement is the rare ambitious book that succeeds in presenting both the theory and the details. It offers compelling arguments about entrenchment and countermobilization, organizational strategies and institutional maintenance. It provides vivid pictures of particular organizations, entrepreneurs, and controversies. And it tells instructive stories about failures as well as successes. Useful and important, broad and convincing, this is a great book."--R. Shep Melnick, Boston College


About the Author:

Steven M. Teles is associate professor of political science at Johns Hopkins University and a fellow at the New America Foundation.

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9780691146256: The Rise of the Conservative Legal Movement: The Battle for Control of the Law (Princeton Studies in American Politics: Historical, International, and Comparative Perspectives)

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Publisher: Princeton University Press, 2010
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